Honda HR-V review

Honda HR-V review

If you’re looking for a new compact SUV, you’re already spoilt for choice – so is there room for the latest Honda HR-V?

Well, Honda is on a roll. The futuristic all-electric Honda e city car is a revelation, and the new Jazz is a supermini transformed.

Now magic dust has been sprinkled on the HR-V. The third-generation model is a bold, hybrid-only “coupe-crossover” up against formidable rivals including the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Toyota Yaris Cross.

Honda HR-V review

Priced from £27,960, it combines a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with two electric motors, producing 129bhp. Uniquely, at low speeds the battery pack and main electric motor drive the front wheels directly. At higher speeds the petrol motor kicks in.

Unlike its dowdy predecessor, the new self-charging hybrid HR-V has real kerb appeal.

A pair of slim headlights and an impressive body-coloured grille form the new HR-Vs face. It also looks more purposeful thanks to big wheels, an extra 10mm of ground clearance than before, rugged plastic cladding and roof rails. It even comes equipped with hill descent control.

Honda HR-V review

There’s a high seating position inside the HR-V, which is generally spacious and comfortable. It also has a quality feel thanks to the soft-touch surfaces used, while the doors close with a satisfying clunk.

Unlike some of its rivals, there’s plenty of space in the back for passengers. However, the boot is a slightly disappointing 319 litres (expanding to 1,305 litres with the rear seats flipped), but there is a nice wide opening.

Of course, the HR-V also benefits from Honda “magic seats” which can fold flat or flip up like a cinema seat, enabling large items (like bikes) to be stored centrally in the car without compromising boot space.

Honda HR-V review

Up front there’s a 7.0-inch digital driver display behind the steering wheel and a 9.0-inch central touchscreen for the infotainment system, which has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard.

The modern dashboard is less cluttered cabin than before, and mercifully hasn’t dispensed with too many buttons, switched and dials.

The ‘e:HEV’ (Honda-speak for the self-charging hybrid engine) starts off in electric mode and you get a choice of three driving modes: Econ, Normal and Sport.

Honda HR-V review

Econ is fine for cruising, but a little gutless on flowing country roads, so you’ll probably spend most of your time in Normal with the occasional “blast” in Sport.

The HR-V is generally refined and the transition between combustion and electric power is pretty seamless, but if you’re too heavy with your right foot, the downside of its CVT automatic transmission rears its ugly head and the revs sky-rocket.

To Honda’s credit, it doesn’t take long for the din to settle down again, but it’s a reminder that you should drive smoothly for an enjoyable HR-V driving experience.

Honda HR-V review

Even with that proviso, the HR-V does feel swifter than the official figures suggest. For the record, it can “sprint” to 62mph in 10.6 seconds before maxing out at 107mph.

On the road there’s a little body lean in more challenging corners, but overall it handles well. It feels substantial, safe and secure. Add excellent visibility and light steering and it’s a doddle to drive in town.

Grip is surprisingly good too, while the brakes are more progressive than many hybrids. Sadly, there’s no four-wheel drive version available.

Honda HR-V review

Honda claims CO2 emission levels are as low as 122g/km, while fuel economy of up to 52mpg is possible. In fact, we found 50-60mpg is very realistic when the HR-V is driven sensibly.

All three trim levels come with Honda’s impressive ‘Sensing’ suite of safety technology as standard, featuring road departure mitigation, traffic sign recognition, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Regenerative braking (which returns much of the energy otherwise lost from braking and coasting back into the battery while you’re driving) is also on offer. Simply select ‘B’ mode on the transmission or use the paddles behind the steering wheel. The system is especially satisfying on downhill stretches of road.

Verdict: The all-new Honda HR-V e:HEV is a welcome addition to the busy compact SUV sector, offering a winning blend of style, safety, comfort, economy and practicality combined with generous equipment levels and the brand’s reputation for reliability.

Honda UK

Honda HR-V review

BMW iX review

BMW iX review

Time to road test the futuristic new flagship of BMW’s family of electric vehicles…

Let’s start by tackling the elephant in the room, because BMW’s big, bold new electric SUV divides opinion.

And I’ll admit, I had my doubts when I saw the first pictures, but let me reassure you – it looks much cooler in the metal.

It’s been quite a wait too (it was previewed as the Vision iNext concept at the 2018 Paris Motor Show), but the good news is that it’s been well worth it.

BMW iX review

The iX is hugely important to BMW. It joins the evergreen i3 and more recent iX3 (an electrified X3) in the range and heralds the transition of the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ brand to zero emissions vehicles.

Priced from £69,905 (xDrive40) to £91,905 (xDrive50) and billed as an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle), at launch it’s available with two powertrain options – both using a twin electric motor set-up (one at each axle) providing all-wheel drive.

The xDrive40 makes 321bhp and 464lb ft of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 124mph. The 76kWh battery pack provides a range of up to 257 miles.

BMW iX review

The range-topping xDrive50 produces 516bhp and 564lb ft of torque, and boasts a 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.6 seconds. Maximum speed is also limited to 124mph, while its epic 111.5kWh battery can return up to 380 miles.

The xDrive40 is capable of charging at speeds of up to 150kW, which is fast enough to gain more than 56 miles of charge in 10 minutes. The xDrive50 has a 200kW charging capability which can add 75 miles in as little as 10 minutes.

Both cars can be charged from 10% to 80% capacity in less than 35 minutes.

BMW iX review

About the same size as an X5 and comparable in height to an X6, the iX’s is far more futuristic – inside and out.

Each iX uses about 60kg of recycled plastic and half the car’s aluminium is re-used, while synthetic yarn made from recycled nylon waste material forms its carpeting and floor mats.

The interior is minimalistic, classy and beautifully put together. The dashboard is dominated by a curved twin-screen set-up that houses a 12.3-inch driver’s display and 14.9-inch central touchscreen running BMW’s slick next-generation infotainment interface.

BMW iX review

Then there’s the hexagonal steering wheel, an updated version of the iDrive rotary controller, integrated touch controls in the wooden veneer and slimline air vents. Naturally, voice control is available too.

BMW should also be commended for featuring a climate control system that can be accessed at all times without having to dig deep into the menu layers. Take note VW Group.

Thanks to its long wheelbase, there’s no shortage of space inside the cabin (limo-like in the back for passengers). Boot capacity is a good, but not class-leading 500 litres, expanding to 1,750 litres when the rear seats are folded.

BMW iX review

I tested both the xDrive40 and xDrive50 and it’s clear from the outset that both manage to deliver a balance of comfort, refinement and performance. In fact, the iX is one of the quietest EVs on the market.

The xDrive40 is quick, while the xDrive50 is blisteringly fast, especially in Sport mode where a video game ‘whoosh’ sound accompanies the rollercoaster-like acceleration.

The iX is new from the ground up, which means it’s been designed for optimal placement of the batteries and motors, resulting in even weight distribution and impressive body control for such a big vehicle.

BMW iX review

It’s possible to hustle the iX on more challenging country roads, but there’s no disguising its size and weight (2.5 tonnes) and it would be an exaggeration to call it nimble. Of the two models, the xDrive50 is the more agile, partly down to its rear-wheel steering.

The ride in the xDrive40 is smooth, but the xDrive50 gets air suspension, which helps it deal with lumps and bumps better, resulting in a near-magic carpet experience.

Overall, the iX is a majestic cruiser and surprisingly manoeuvrable in town too, thanks to good visibility, stacks of driver assistance tech and light steering.

BMW iX review

Without living with the iX for a few weeks, it’s impossible to pass judgement on the claimed ranges. However, with a little restraint I’d estimate that in real world driving, ranges of 225 miles (xDrive40) and 350 miles (xDrive50) are quite possible.

A quick word for the regenerative braking system which recharges the battery on the move by harvesting energy otherwise lost when you lift off the accelerator or brake. Unlike many EVs, the iX’s brakes have a progressive feel and offer serious stopping power.

Needless to stay, the iX passed its Euro NCAP crash tests with flying colours, garnering a maximum five stars. It was praised for both its outstanding occupant protection and its advanced driver assistance systems, which help to prevent accidents.

BMW iX

The iX’s rivals include the Tesla Model X, Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC.

Verdict: BMW may be a little late to the big electric SUV party, but the futuristic iX has been well worth the wait. A bold new flagship for the premium brand’s family of EVs, it offers a long driving range, impressive driving dynamics, comfort and performance, coupled with cutting-edge tech, supreme build quality and serious badge appeal.

BMW UK

BMW iX review

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review

We road test the stylish new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross – an SUV transformed…

Where the outgoing Suzuki S-Cross lost out in kerb appeal, it gained in practicality, off-road capability, comfort, equipment and value for money.

This third-generation model builds on its predecessor’s plus points, adding style and a comprehensive safety and tech upgrade.

And let’s face it, it has to good because it’s battling it out with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-30 and Seat Ateca in the highly competitive family crossover sector.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

The new S-Cross has a couple of aces up its sleeve. Unlike most of its rivals, not only is it also available with four-wheel drive (AllGrip in Suzuki speak), but it offers more equipment as standard, better fuel economy and lower emissions.

Add Suzuki’s hard-won reputation for reliability and top customer service and it becomes a serious contender.

So let’s start with the obvious. While the S-Cross retains much the same profile as the Mk 2, it now has a bolder, more rugged SUV appearance and it looks especially good from the front.

Priced from £24,999, at launch it’s only available with a lively 1.4-litre ‘Boosterjet’ turbo engine, which features a 48V mild hybrid system (there’s a 0.3kWh lithium-ion battery under the driver’s seat) developing 129bhp in total.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

Delivering a 0-62mph acceleration time of 9.5 seconds (2WD models) for both manual and automatic transmissions and a top speed of 118mph, it is capable of up to 53.2mmpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 120g/km. And those last two stats are class-leading.

To make life less complicated, the S-Cross comes in two trim levels – Motion and Ultra.

Entry-level Motion comes with a 7.0-inch centre touchscreen (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and heated front seats.

Ultra adds a 9.0-inch touchscreen with built-in sat-nav, 360-degree camera, leather upholstery, a sliding panoramic roof and the option of four-wheel drive.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

There’s a step-up inside too. While it’s not state-of-the-art, it’s spacious, comfortable and logically laid out.

It’s well built too, though we’d prefer some soft-touch surfaces. It’s also refreshing to find some buttons and dials in addition to the touchscreen (a big improvement on its predecessor, though still not the slickest system ever).

There’s plenty of space for passengers, but the panoramic sunroof does eat into the headroom, so don’t forget to sit in the back on a test drive.

Boot capacity is a useful 430 litres, rising to 875 litres with the rear seats folded down. There are also useful storage spaces around the cabin.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

Our only gripe is that the driver’s seating position is a little on the high side, but it won’t be a deal breaker for most potential buyers.

On the road the new Suzuki S-Cross is easy and fun to drive. The engine is eager, and thanks to the car’s lightweight construction and that boost from the battery, it feels lively and only becomes vocal if pushed hard.

Like most SUVs, there’s a little body roll in faster corners, but overall it feels composed and surprisingly agile, while both the automatic or manual six-speed gearboxes are a pleasure to use.

It’s ideal for the city, with light steering and good visibility, plus all-round parking sensors and a rear camera.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

What’s more, if you’re no stranger to extreme weather conditions or you simply want extra peace of mind, then four-wheel drive is fitted as standard if you opt for the Ultra trim.

It has four drive modes – Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. Auto is the default. It uses two-wheel drive, switching to four wheels if it detects wheel spin. Sport makes the S-Cross more dynamic, maximising grip when necessary, altering engine response and cornering performance.

Use Snow for the obvious and other slippery conditions, while Lock is for controlling the car in snow, mud, or sand.

Verdict: The new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is something of a revelation. An affordable, no-nonsense family SUV that handles well and offers impressive off-road capability. Generously equipped, spacious and boasting low running costs, it’s packed with safety kit and the latest infotainment technology.

Suzuki Cars

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

The handsome Volvo V60 estate was arguably my Car of the Year back in 2018.

As I said in my review: “Obviously it’s not special in a supercar kind of way – it’s just that it does everything it’s meant to do exceptionally well.”

Volvo didn’t rest on its laurels because 2019 saw the addition of two new V60 variants – the sporty V60 R-Design and the more rugged Cross Country, boasting all-wheel drive, a raised ride height, Hill Descent Control and a special Off-Road driving mode.

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

Now we also have the plug-in hybrid, the V60 Recharge in Volvospeak. My test car (badged T6 AWD) came in best-selling R-Design trim.

Pairing a 253hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo engine with an 87hp electric motor, the T6 can sprint from 0-62mph run in just 5.4 seconds.

More importantly, it has a theoretical fuel economy as high as 156.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 41g/km and it has a useful pure electric range of just over 20 miles.

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

The big news for 2022 is that Volvo has increased the battery capacity (from 11.6kWh to 18.8kWh) on the V60 Recharge, allowing it to deliver a zero emissions range of up to 56 miles.

Essentially it’s the same car, yet it makes even more sense when you consider the average daily commute is less than 30 miles.

In other words, if you use your car locally or have a modest daily commute (and you charge it overnight at home), it can run in electric-only mode most of the time which is a big saving considering electricity is more than 50% cheaper per mile than petrol.

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

Sleek and perfectly proportioned, the V60 is easily one of the best-looking estate cars on the market.

A superb blend of plush, Scandi chic, state-of-the-art tech, solid build quality and unrivalled safety, the generously equipped V60 Recharge is priced from £47,225.

Inside, the cabin is comfortable, the driving position is perfect, there’s ample space for adults up front and behind, plus there’s a large boot with 529 litres of luggage capacity, extending to 1,441 litres with the rear seats down.

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

On the road, then PHEV is much the same as a regular V60, which is no bad thing. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is generally smooth, though occasionally hesitant, while the switch from electric to combustion engine and back is almost seamless.

There’s a decent amount of power on tap, the ride is comfortable, it feels totally planted and there’s plenty of traction, thanks to all-wheel drive.

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

The V60 Recharge is probably at its relaxing best cruising on faster roads, but stick it into Power mode on more challenging routes and it gives you the confidence to press on.

It hides its length well and doesn’t feel a handful in town, partly down to the light steering, sensors and rear parking camera.

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

My only criticism is that the V60 could do with the latest version of Volvo’s infotainment as fitted to the new C40 Recharge.

Jointly developed with Google and based on the Android operating system, there’s now access to Google Play apps and services such as Google Assistant and Google Maps. Not a deal-breaker, but a nice-to-have.

The V60’s formidable plug-in hybrid estate rivals include the BMW 3 Series Touring, Volkswagen Passat GTE and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a classy plug-in hybrid estate that’s smooth, safe and sorted, then you should definitely test drive the new, improved Volvo V60 Recharge.

Volvo Cars UK

Volvo V60 Recharge plug-in hybrid review

Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro review

Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro review

If want to drive a big 4×4, but would rather keep on the right side of eco warriors, then the latest EV from Audi could be the car for you…

Not only does it possess premium badge appeal, but with zero tailpipe emissions, it couldn’t be kinder to the environment.

What’s more, because it’s so similar to Audi’s conventional 4x4s, inside and out, it makes the switch from fossil fuels to battery electric so much smoother.

Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro review

The e-tron SUV first hit UK roads in 2019. The more athletic Sportback version (a streamlined roof gives it a coupe-esque look) followed a year later.

Now, the new ‘S’ is the sportiest version yet and will allow you to impress even the most traditional of petrol heads.

It can sprint from standstill to 62mph in just 4.5 seconds (a full second quicker than the standard e-tron) and on to a top speed of 130mph.

Naturally, it’s all-wheel drive, but unlike most of its rivals, which make do with two electric motors, the e-tron S has three – one up front and two at the back.

Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro review

It’s not just blisteringly fast, the e-tron S boasts serious road presence. Chunky, yet sporty, its front end is dominated by Audi’s aggressive ‘Singleframe’ grille and flashy LED lights. Head back and the profile is sharply styled, the wheels are enormous, and the rear is suitably pert.

The interior is just what you expect from Audi – a classy blend of soft-touch surfaces, leather, brushed chrome and state-of-the-art technology.

The cabin is spacious with ample room for rear seat passengers and a useful 615 litres of boot space (1,665 litres with the back seats folded), plus 60 litres under the bonnet (ideal for storing cables).

Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro review

Naturally, the driving position offers a commanding view of the road, while the level of refinement on the road is superb – partly down to the electric motor, but also its slippery shape and high build quality.

Tech highlights include Audi’s slick infotainment system utilising twin touchscreens, the lower of which displays the climate controls, but doubles as a writing pad for writing in a sat nav destination, for instance.

There’s also a digital driver’s display, plus stacks of safety and driver assistance equipment – and seven drive modes: Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual, Off Road and All Road.

Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro review

You can also select Drive and Sport next to the gear selector. Drive is your day-to-day setting, while Sport unleashes all the car’s performance, increasing power for up to eight seconds.

Put your foot down and there’s that instant torque that all EVs deliver, yet it’s even more impressive in the mighty 2.6-tonne e-tron S.

Its agility seems to defy the laws of physics, delivering a composed and planted experience regardless of whether you’re cruising on a motorway or enjoying challenging country roads. It’s also more than capable of tackling off-road terrain.

Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro review

Of course, its proportions can make it a handful in town, but with great visibility, cameras and all-round sensors, you soon adjust.

However, no car is perfect and the e-tron S is no exception. On paper it has a range of up to 224 miles, but in the real world you’re looking at closer to 200 miles.

Unless you need a car to regularly cover that kind of mileage or you can’t fit a home charger, that might be a deal-breaker.

For the record, it will charge overnight from home and can take as little as 30 minutes to charge from 5% to 80% using a 150kW public charger (if you can find one).

Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro review

Finally, let’s not forget the price of the e-Tron S. The basic e-tron will set you back at least £62,560. The e-tron S Sportback starts at £88,760, and if it’s loaded with extras, can end up closer to £100,000.

Rivals include everything from the Jaguar I-Pace to the Tesla Model X and Mercedes-Benz EQC.

Verdict: The Audi e-tron S Sportback quattro is a class act – an enticing, zero emissions blend of performance, luxury and driving pleasure. Spacious and with genuine off-road ability, it’s a dream SUV for many.